Films worth seeing this weekend at VIFF
WAKING THE GREEN TIGER: Gary Marcuse’s Vancouver-made, China-filmed documentary gets a world premiere Friday night, and plays again Tuesday.
Through a protest of a dam building project, Marcuse studies a rising environmental movement in China. This is a very good film about a potentially monumental development, especially as we see it contrasted with Chairman Mao’s “tame nature” dictum.
DAY 10: Saturday
Two films I’m looking forward to:
BLACK BREAD: This multi-prize winner from Spain is said to be both disturbing and compelling as a boy seeks to clear his father of a murder charge amid Republican versus Fascist outbursts.
THIS IS NOT A FILM: If you’re forbidden to make films, make this. Iran’s Jafar Panahi (along with a co-director) has created a documentary and self-portrait that extols the power of art. Toronto’s Eye Weekly rated it 10 out of 10.
And several films I recommended previously get another screening
The Sandman, How Much Does Your Building Weigh Mr. Foster?, My Little Princess, Blood in the Mobile, and Imams Go To School.
DAY 11: Sunday
POLICEMAN: An Israeli film that for once is not about the Palestinian issue or disputes with the Arab states. It raises many of the same issues that drove those demonstrations in Tel Aviv and other cities a few weeks ago. The widening gap between rich and poor is chief among them. “A state of masters and slaves,” a character labels the nation as she tries to compose a manifesto to be read on TV.
The heart of the film shows a group of revolutionaries, more passionate than organized, taking a group of billionaires hostage and detailing their crimes (wage cuts, union busting, excessive profits). They’re trying for a 1960s style political action. The film spends so much time hearing the charges, it’s clear that’s where its message lies, even though the people delivering it are a somewhat hapless bunch. Before we meet them, we spend almost half the movie with a group of anti-terrorist officers who cook up a plan to deflect blame for an action they messed up. The two halves together amount to a fierce critique of modern Israel, controversial for sure but here driving a good movie with a riveting climax. (Also Mon. and next Thurs.)
DONOVAN'S ECHO: There's a good story in this BC film and good performances from a cast that includes, Bruce Greenwood, Sonja Bennett and Danny Glover. There's also a rather plodding pace and a few too many coincidences.
Glover plays a scientist who returns to Fort Langley some 30 years after his wife and daughter were killed by an under-age driver in a stolen truck. He's still in mourning and almost silent. Bruce Greenwood, as his brother-in-law, takes him but becomes annoyed and eventually loses all sympathy for him because he claims to forsee the future. There's an auto accident. Then a skil saw falling off a scaffold, moving him to tackle a young girl; to save her, he says. Then there's a bridge he predicts will collapse. How this Twilight Zone stuff connects with a nuclear scientist is not quite clear, but Glover portrays a believable, misunderstood prophet and the increasingly fantastic plot is fun to follow even as it fails to be convincing. More pep could have covered for that. (Also Tuesday)
Previously recommended: Miss Representation, Taste the Waste, You’ve Been trumped, Benda Bilili and 7 Sins Forgiven